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WeatherBlog 17 2022/23 | Calm after the storm

The weather calms down

by Lea Hartl 03/15/2023
The series of alerts over the last few days has noticeably improved the previously miserable snow record in the west and brought at least a small refresh in the east. Now the weather is calming down. Over the next few days, the fresh snow can be inspected more closely with high pressure, very mild temperatures and probably plenty of sunshine.

Current situation and outlook

The current ends this afternoon (Wednesday, 15 March). In the Western Alps, the latest series of alerts was based on the principle of "to the poor, the good. This time, the cold front from the northwest on Tuesday was followed by a cold air advance into the Mediterranean with subsequent development of Italian low pressure. Good for the far too dry southern slopes of the Alps!

The snowfall will subside today and the sun will increasingly prevail. From tomorrow (Thursday, March 15), an area of high pressure will take over completely. This will also turn the current from northerly to south-westerly directions. This will cause temperatures to rise by around 10 degrees by Thursday at the latest. The warm air will work its way from west to east, so it will warm up earlier in the western Alps. The zero degree line will approach 3000m and will probably reach even higher on Friday. Friday will be mostly sunny, with only a few high clouds here and there disturbing the direct sunlight. Don't forget your sunscreen! Gradually, the south föhn will also appear in the susceptible snow corridors. The weekend is expected to be very mild everywhere in the north and, depending on the influence of the foehn, quite windy. From today's perspective, Sunday will be more unsettled, especially in the west, but it should remain mostly dry here too.

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Snow conditions still well below average

The ORF provides a historical comparison of the current snow conditions in the Eastern Alps. The recent snowfall has done little to change the fact that precipitation and new snowfall totals at the measuring stations in the Austrian Alps are well below the long-term average. The differences between the various stations are high due to the high spatial variability of snowfall (accumulation effects, wind, etc.). Depending on the region and station, the seasonal snowfall totals are between approx. 15% and 75% (!) below the 1991-2020 average.

The SLF snow depth maps have moved slightly away from the deep red of recent weeks following the series of westerly alerts, but the red tones dominate as usual. You can see how the new snow of the last week is reflected in the relative snow depth map. After the snowfall, the higher elevations have 60-90% of the "normal" amount of snow. There is still significantly less at lower altitudes.

Dachstein: end of ski operations

In keeping with the low-snow winter, the T-bar lift on the Dachstein glacier will be finally dismantled these days. The small ski area has been struggling with rapid glacier shrinkage and operating the lift, which was built on ice, has become increasingly difficult in recent years. The end of skiing on the Dachstein has a symbolic effect, especially in a winter like this one, but the changes in all glacier ski areas have long since become obvious. Larger resorts are increasingly relying on snowmaking at high altitudes and expanding the corresponding infrastructure. Glacier ice is still covered where it is important for operations, for example around lift supports or exits, but snow depots are increasingly the method of choice. The ice in the ski resorts cannot even be saved in the medium term, so operations are being switched to ice-free variants where possible. On the Dachstein, there was an increase in visitors this winter even without a T-bar lift and the main business here is done in summer anyway. The Dachstein glacier lift is part of the Planai-Hochwurzen network. So if you want to ski, you can do so as usual on the Planai, which is well supplied with artificial snow.

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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